• Closet Car: Is it Safe to Store Climbing Gear in Your Vehicle?
  • Can a Belay Device Jam Open?
  • Marking the Middle of a Rope
  • Fitting Rock Shoes to Problematic Feet
  • Defining the Cheater Stick and Stick Clip
  • When Your Partner Steals Your Gear...
  • Can You Climb on a Wet Rope?
  • Can You Decrease Fall Factor?
  • Should You Be Allowed to Practice Lead Falls in the Gym?
  • Rope Certifications: Twins, Doubles, or Both?
  • Are Cam Placements Compromised in Wet Rock?
  • What's the Correct Way to Girth Hitch to Your Harness?
  • Choosing Ice Screw Length
  • The Holding Power of Nuts
  • Should You Clip the Belay As Your First Lead Pro?
  • Should I Worry About Spinning Bolt Hangers?
  • Belay-Loop Myth
  • Rock Cleaning Made Easy
  • More, on the EDK
  • Why Not Clip Directly to Cam-Stem Loops?
  • Can You Recommend A Self-Release Knot?
  • What's The Protocol For Naming a Route After Yourself?
  • Is Dropped Gear Still Safe?
  • Can Ropes and Slings Be Contaminated By Essential Oils?
  • Is It Okay to Wear Socks with Rock Climbing Shoes?
  • How Should You Test Gear Placements?
  • Can You Use Adhesive Tape on Ropes, Cords, Webbing?
  • A Better EDK?
  • What's the Difference Between a Double and a Single Rope?
  • Does It Count As a Free Ascent If You Grab the Anchor?
  • Can You Use Cams As Passive Pro?
  • I Found a Rope - Is it Safe to Use?
  • Am I Using a Daisy Chain Wrong?
  • Should I Buy a Plastic or Foam Helmet?
  • Why Doesn't Anyone Climb in Knickers Anymore?
  • Is Weight or Range More Important in Cams?
  • The Mysterious Phenomenon of Rope Shrinkage
  • How Often Should You Place Trad Gear?
  • Worst-Case Scenario - A Factor 2 Fall
  • The Trouble With Glue-In Bolts
  • The Nuts and Bolts of Nuts and Bolts
  • Why Are Climbing Shoes So Expensive?
  • Flaws in the Yosemite Decimal System
  • How Durable is Trad Gear?
  • Using Super Glue on Your Fingers
  • The Worst Gear Ever Invented
  • Rap Ring Strength
  • Spinners and Losers
  • Why Do People Use Oval Biners?
  • Is it Ethical to Clean a New Route?
  • Aid Climbing = Moped Riding
  • Will Sweat Harm My Harness?
  • Should You Use Rope or Webbing to Connect to an Anchor?
  • Choosing Between C4s and Friends
  • Can You Lead On a Static Rope?
  • Can I Use Climbing Bolts For Anchors in a Gym?
  • Are My Modified Crampons Safe?
  • Are Falls Held or Breaking Strength More Important In a Rope?
  • Does Poop Harm a Climbing Rope?
  • Are Homemade Draws Reliable?
  • Shopping for Economy Carabiners
  • When You Fly, Can You Carry On Climbing Gear?
  • Can I Trust Fixed Draws?
  • Which Helmet WIll Fit My Big Head?
  • Are Adjustable Leg Loops Useful?
  • Should I clip Ice Screws with Screamers?
  • How do I Make a Bomber Anchor?
  • Can I Modify my Crampon Without Compromising the Integrity?
  • How to Place Ice Tools and Crampons - Will Gadd's Tips
  • How to Place Ice Screws - Will Gadd's Tips
  • Hot Versus Cold Forging
  • Caring For Your Fingertips
  • Are Sewn Slings Stronger Than Knotted Ones?
  • When to Replace Climbing Webbing
  • Using Grip Dip To Color Code Gear
  • The Benefits of Cotton
  • How to Pull a Rappel Rope
  • How to Properly Orient a Carabiner Gate
  • How to Toprope
  • How To Rig Trad Anchors/Belays
  • Are My Fuzzy Quickdraws Safe?
  • How to Stretch Climbing Shoes
  • Are 1/2-inch bolts really better than 3/8-inch?
  • Should I Resole My Rock Shoes?
  • How to Hand Drill
  • Lonely Climber Looking for Woman
  • Is My Invented Knot Safe?
  • Difference Between Double and Twin Ropes
  • Dealing With an Argumentative Partner
  • Will Antifreeze Ruin Rope?
  • Why Is a Rack Called a Rack?
  • Rock Shoes For a Big Guy
  • Do They Kill Geese To Get Down?
  • How to Wash a Rope
  • Do Cam Teeth Do Anything?
  • Can I Fix Delaminated Rock Shoes?
  • Can I Mix a Static With a Dynamic Rope for Rappelling?
  • Should You Lower Or Rap Through Anchors?
  • How Should The Middle Man Tie In?
  • How Do I Get a Good Climbing Man?
  • Do Falls Weaken Bolts?
  • Should I Rope Solo?
  • Should I Angle Ice Screws Down?
  • How Should Old Climbers Train?
  • Can I Make a Belay Loop?
  • Reusing Ice Screw Holes
  • Overcoming the Fear of Falling
  • Choosing a Stove Fuel
  • Will My Hiking Boots Work With Crampons?
  • Do Heavy People Shock Load the Rope?
  • Can Offset Cams Subsitute for Regular Cams?
  • Can I Resling My Cams Myself?
  • Are Older Alien Cams Safe?
  • Will sports drinks freeze more slowly than water?
  • The Truth About Climbing Supplements
  • Can I Make My Leashed Tools, Leashless?
  • Rope Stretch Facts
  • How To Cut a Rope Without a Knife
  • Secrets of the Toprope
  • How to Sharpen Crampons
  • Should I Become a Climbing Guide?
  • Preventing Climbing Rope Wear
  • How to Remove an Old Bolt
  • How to Customize Ice Tool Picks
  • Double Rope Facts
  • Do It Yourself Fruit Boots
  • Climbing Rope Sheath Slippage
  • Rockfall Safety
  • Do Screamers Work?
  • Climbing Skin Care
  • Selecting a Gym Rope
  • Quick Links for Climbing
  • Are Russian Cams Good?
  • When To Retire Climbing Gear and Ropes
  • Should I Get a Link Cam?
  • How to Get a Climbing Mate
  • Will Dog Urine Harm My Rope?
  • Using Steel Carabiners for Fixed Quickdraws
  • Petzl Tibloc and Climbing Rope Sheath Damage
  • How to Train for Rock climbing
  • How to Rappel
  • Overcoming Anger
  • Fixing a Spinning Bolt
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    Of Choss and Lions: Honnold, Wright and Birdwell in Kenya
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    Marking the Middle of a Rope

    22-May-2017
    By

    I have been entertaining the idea of putting a middle mark on my new light-green rope, but don't want to use something that will damage it. I'm thinking of using red food coloring, which I think is water based. Would this be safe to use on my rope? —Harriman via rockandice.com

     

    Knowing where the middle of your rope lies is a SAFETY ISSUE. Photo: <a target="_blank" href="https://creativecommons.org/publicdomain/zero/1.0/legalcode">Creative Commons Zero - CC0.</a>.Knowing when you are halfway done with anything is valuable information. Imagine driving a car without a fuel gauge. I’m stumped as to why some ropes still don’t have middle marks, and the question of how to mark the middle of a rope is among the most frequently asked here. Knowing where the middle of your rope lies is a SAFETY ISSUE. You need the mark for rigging the rope for rappels and especially for knowing whether you can lower from an anchor. By gum, you even need it for coiling the rope.

    But we will deal. The quick answer to your question is “probably.” There are many red food colorings and dyes, the most popular being Red No. 40, which is a petroleum extract and a dye, and another is carmine, which is coloring made from boiled insects such as the cochineal beetle, and is used to perk up the colors of foodstuffs such as yogurt, ice cream and juice. That's right, maggot, you eat mashed bugs nearly every day.

    Dyes and colorings used for food might be fine for nylon, but they have not been tested, and would certainly be messy. There are options.

    First, though, consider that the UIAA safety commission advised against homemade rope markings after ropes marked with felt-tipped pens held only half as many falls.

    Yikes, but in the real world the UIAA warning isn’t especially relevant since to replicate their results you would have to repeatedly fall exactly with that middle marking over an edge or carabiner, and take the savage factor-two fall used in the tests. Then consider that tensile tests on ropes marked with a Sharpie, done by Kolin Powick and crew at Black Diamond, showed that marked ropes still broke at the knot, proving, again, that your tie-in knot is your rope’s weakest point, emphasizing the importance of keeping the ends of your rope in good condition.

    As you can see, contradictions abound in the world of marking ropes. Fortunately, as usual, Gear Guy can settle this once and for all: Instead of using some suspect food dye or a pen that may or may not cause your rope to break, buy and use the Beal Rope Marker. This $10 bottle of elixir, available from REI, has, according to REI, been tested and proven safe on Beal, Blue Water, Edelweiss, Lanex, Maxim, PMI and Roca ropes.

    Oops, wait a minute. Tests conducted by Mammut, using the Beal Rope Marker on their ropes, showed a decrease in strength by 50 percent for their non-dry ropes and a decrease of 17 percent for their dry ropes. What a cluster! My recommendation is not to mark your rope with anything. Instead, flake the rope from the ends and arrive at the middle, and always knot the free ends to prevent rappelling or being lowered off them. Next!

     

    This article appeared in Rock and Ice issue 199 (January 2012).

     

    Find More Climbing Gear Advice Here

     

    GOT A QUESTION? E-mail Gear Guy! rockandicegearguy@gmail.com

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